President Donald Trump said he would not be watching the US National Soccer team after the US Soccer Federation decided to repeal the rule requiring players to stand and remove its ban on kneeling during the national anthem.
On Saturday, Trump responded on Twitter to a news story by Florida Republican Matt Gaetz, who criticized the new policy. He wrote, “I won’t be watching much anymore!”
Gaetz also expressed his feelings by tweeting his desire to defund US Soccer, while calling the federation to remove the “US” from its name.
“I’d rather the US not have a soccer team than have a soccer team that won’t stand for the national anthem,” Gaetz said. “You shouldn’t get to play under our flag as our national team if you won’t stand when it’s raised.”
The former rule that required all players to stand during the national anthem was implemented after US women’s national team star Megan Rapinoe kneeled in support of Colin Kaepernick during the anthem in solidarity. The policy was applied in February 2017, stating players should show respect to the country during the anthem.
Reason For Reversal
The decision to reverse the ban was made in the wake of protests across the country against racism and police brutality. The US Soccer Federation admitted that the policy was wrong and detracted from the important message of Black Lives Matter.
“We have not done enough to listen – especially to our players – to understand and acknowledge the very real and meaningful experiences of black and other minority communities in our country,” US Soccer apologized. “Sports are a powerful platform for good, and we have not used our platform as effectively as we should have. We can do more on these specific issues, and we will.”
The federation hopes to fight all forms of racism, discrimination, and inequality. It hopes to implement supporting actions soon for the players and to achieve social justice.
Not Just Soccer
Trump also criticized the NFL for issuing an apology for not listening to its players’ concerns over racism. He wrote on Twitter, “And it looks like the NFL is heading in that direction also, but not with me watching!”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he encourages NFL players’ right to peacefully protest during the national anthem. He previously criticized NFL players and other professional athletes for kneeling as a peaceful protest during the national anthem.
On Monday, FIFA responded to Trump’s criticism. FIFA called for tolerance, mutual respect, and common sense after Trump’s tweet criticizing US Soccer for repealing its ban on players protesting during the national anthem.
“FIFA has a zero-tolerance approach to incidents of all forms of discrimination in football, as outlined in the FIFA Statutes. We must all say no to racism and no to violence,” read a FIFA statement to The Associated Press when asked about Trump’s tweet.
The President of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, believes that players have the right to express themselves against racism, discrimination, and violence. He supports the on-field protests against police brutality and for racial injustice. Previously, Infantino praised Bundesliga stars for their displays and solidarity.